Mayoral reception for Holywood Conservation Group

I hosted Holywood Conservation Group at Bangor Town Hall on Monday 22 July 2013 recognising and celebrating achievements of the Holywood based group which seeks “to promote the preservation of fine old buildings, trees and other notable features that enrich our lives in and around Holywood”.

I was delighted to host representatives from Holywood Conservation Group to express my profound thanks for the wide range of work they have undertaking preserving and developing Holywood’s Built Heritage for future generations. 

In an era where benefits of our built heritage are often ignored Holywood Conservation Group play a vital role ensuring Holywood retains its distinctive character.

Muir welcomes Kinnegar Sewage solution update

Cllr Muir at Kinnegar Lagoons
I welcome the comprehensive update provided by NI Water concerning planned solution to end the ongoing sewage pollution problem in the Kinnegar area, Holywood.

Update provided by Northern Ireland Water details a phased approach with contractor due to be appointed in November 2013, twelve month construction project to stop the pollution commencing in January 2014 with Lagoon Remediation taking place thereafter with draft report into viable options for remediation due in December 2013. A copy of the update can be obtained by emailing mail@andrewmuir.net 

Delivery of a definitive timetable to address the Kinnegar sewage pollution odour problem is welcome news for people living, visiting, working or travelling through Holywood who have endured the awful odours for far too long. I have campaigned relentlessly to solve this issue and will not rest until construction work is completed to end the pollution, remove the odours and return the lagoons to their natural state.

After sustained lobbying from myself I am delighted to hear that £3.5million funding has been confirmed to end the pollution. With an extensive project required to sort the problem including tunneling under the A2 Bangor to Belfast road and nearby Railway line the road ahead will involve significant work. I am therefore glad to learn that public consultation with residents directly impacted by construction will take place later this year in December 2013.

After pollution over such a protracted period of time the Kinnegar lagoons have been largely destroyed and must be repaired to safeguard local wildlife. I therefore look forward to hear about plans to restore the lagoons and help us move forward to a cleaner, greener environment. Until then I will lobby and pressurise NI Water on a regular relentless basis to get this problem fixed once and for all.

Muir to fight new Portavo reservoir sale plans

Cllr Muir, Mayor of North Down at Portavo Reservoir
I will vigorously fight new NI Water plans to sell Portavo Reservoir near Groomsport during 2014 - 15.

Previous campaign was successful in halting plans for a similar sale of this reservoir and have now written as Mayor to arrange an urgent meeting with the Regional Development Minister on this proposed sale.

I am disappointed to learn that once again Portavo Reservoir is under threat of sale. Redundant reservoirs offer vast economic, social, environmental and health benefits and should not be sold to the highest bidder. Nor should they be abandoned or ignored by the authorities.

In 2011 I mounted a large public campaign which thankfully resulted in the sale being suspended. This was backed by the RSPB, Ulster Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust and I am confident the same can be achieved again.

It is frustrating that we are now in the same situation as we were in 2011. Back then I called for a redundant reservoirs strategy and yet not much progress has been made on this issue.

I have already written to the Minister asking for an urgent meeting on this issue and will be working hard to ensure this sale does not progress.

Muir welcomes new Town Centre Cycle Stands

I welcome provision of new cycle stands in Bangor and Holywood. Following concerted lobbying by me and a number of dedicated individuals Roads Service have now erected new cycle stands in both Town Centres are are looking for more sites.

Cllr Muir, Mayor of North Down at new Bike Stand in Bangor Town Centre
With many people now cycling into our Town Centres the need for secure and convenient cycle parking has been a pressing concern for many. After lobbying the Roads Service I am delighted to see new stands in both Holywood and Bangor Town Centres. Provision of the stands is yet another positive improvement helping to create a Bicycle friendly Borough.

With money available for additional stands I am keen to hear from people where they think any additional stands should be erected. Please do not hesitate to contact me via email mail@andrewmuir.net or telephone 07813 945411.

Mayor's Charities Working as One

Three charities I will be working with during my year as Mayor under the Mayoral Theme 'Working as One' are North Down YMCA, Camphill Communities NI and Mark Pollock Trust.

Working as One we can create a home for everyone, reaching out, supporting and celebrating a range of work taking place across North Down.

I look forward to organising a range of exciting and innovative events to raise money for the Charities and awareness of their work and the issues they champion.

Every year the Mayor adopts up to three charities and puts together a charity committee with representatives from each charity. 

North Down YMCA has operating since 1979, is based in Queen’s Parade, Bangor and as a faith-based voluntary organisation seeks to put the Christian faith into practice by empowering children, young people, families and communities to flourish in mind, body and spirit.  Over the past year their staff and volunteers have supported over 800 individuals of all ages across North Down through their Youth Development, Healthy Living and Community Engagement programmes. More about North Down YMCA at www.northdownymca.org

A spokesperson from North Down YMCA commented: “I am delighted that the Mayor has chosen North Down YMCA as one of his charities and look forward to working closely with him throughout the year. This opportunity will enable our association to further share the story of our work and raise much-needed funds to develop the support we can offer to young people, families and communities across North Down.”

Camphill Communities NI are inclusive and mutually supportive Communities which provide homes and meaningful activities for people with learning disabilities. More about Camphill in this video.

There are four Camphill Communities in Northern Ireland. Two are located within the Borough of North Down; Camphill Community Glencraig which is situated on the Southern Shore of Belfast Lough and encompasses both children and adults with learning disabilities and Camphill Community Holywood which provides residential accommodation for adults with learning disabilities and work opportunities through their award winning organic Café, Bakery and Food Store located in the centre of Holywood.
A spokesperson from Camphill Communities said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the Mayor’s nominated charities and very much look forward to working with Councillor Muir, during his Mayoral term, and the other named charities over the coming year.  

This is a wonderful opportunity for us to raise not only much needed funds but also awareness of Camphill’s work on behalf of children and adults with learning disabilities and bring the services we offer to a much wider audience.”

The Mark Pollock Trust are pursuing their mission in three ways:  firstly, by putting the issue on a global stage through Mark's motivational speaking to corporate leaders; secondly, by creating a fundraising engine through a global running series on six continents called Run in the Dark; and finally, being a catalyst for collaboration by Mark's use of aggressive physical therapy, Ekso robotic technology and biological innovations. More about Mark in this quick video.

A spokesperson for the Mark Pollock Trust said: “Mark Pollock Trust are delighted and extremely grateful to be nominated as one of the Mayoral Charities, we are sincerely grateful for this opportunity.

We believe that the cure for spinal injuries simply requires enough of the right people having the will to make it happen. It is our mission to find and connect those people around the world to mainstream what is currently on the fringes.”

Visit to Seacourt Print Workshop

I visited Seacourt Print Workshop as Mayor of North Down on Friday 5 July 2013 along with Councillor Larry Thompson.

I greatly enjoyed our visit to the busy workshop, learning more about their work and plans ahead.

I look forward to welcoming the group in the Town Hall later this year showcasing and celebrating the positive innovative work taking place at their new site.

Muir halts Holywood Pay and Display Parking Plan

I have managed to halt plans to introduce on street Pay and Display parking charges in the heart of Holywood after being notified by the Roads Service “we do not envisage implementing on-street pay and display parking in Holywood without the full support of the Council"

A recently published Roads Service Holywood Parking Report 2012 detailed “It is recommended that the introduction of Pay and Display parking be considered in the main commercial streets in the Town Centre"

I am delighted to report that the pay and display plan has thankfully been halted followed a concerted campaign which involved gaining support of North Down Borough Council against pay and display parking in the main commercial streets in Holywood Town Centre.

With Holywood Town Centre now enjoying a relatively low vacancy rate the last thing businesses and shoppers needed was new charges to replace the 1 hour on street parking limit. Free parking for up to one hour on Holywood’s High Street and surrounding areas is extremely popular with shoppers who were aghast at these plans.

I look forward to engaging with the Roads Service to address parking and traffic flow without the worry that these plans will be imposed over the heads of North Down Councillors.

Muir calls for redundant Reservoirs Strategy

Myself at Portavo Reservoir
I am calling for NI Water to start a consultation on a redundant Reservoirs Strategy after it was revealed that 22 NI Water reservoirs are no longer in use.

A recent Assembly Question asked by Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle revealed the location of the 22 NI Water Reservoirs no longer in use as a source for the public water supply.

Redundant reservoirs can be found across Northern Ireland in places such as Coleraine, Enniskillen, Lisburn, Derry / Londonderry, Downpatrick, Dungannon, Portaferry, Donaghadee, Craigantlet and Holywood.

Whilst plans to sell reservoirs across North Down have thankfully been suspended due to a concerted campaign led by me the threat of sale or closure remains a serious concern for many.

With NI Water now owning 22 redundant reservoirs across Northern Ireland a long term strategy would be useful to allay concerns, safeguard the environment and realise potential opportunities.

The redundant reservoirs offer vast economic, social, environmental and health benefits and should not be sold the highest bidder nor abandoned and ignored. 

As custodians of so many reservoirs built by many different organisations such as Belfast Water Commissioners NI Water have a moral obligation to explore and consult upon an alternative financially and environmentally sustainable future for these reservoirs.

Any new future for these reservoirs must attract widespread support from the community, ensure security of supply, minimise flood risks, protect wildlife and the environment generally. Users should also be allowed to continue their current activities in a safe manner such as the wide range of angling organisations who utilise these amenities on a daily basis.

Written Assembly Question
(AQW AQW 22149/11-15)

Mr Lyttle asked the Minister for Regional Development which reservoirs are no longer used by Northern Ireland Water.

Mr Kennedy: I have been advised by Northern Ireland Water that 22 of its reservoirs are no longer in use as a source for the public water supply. The reservoirs and their locations are as set out in the table below.

Lough Cowey
Quoile Upper
Quoile Lower
Crieghtons Green
Ballysallagh Upper
Ballysallagh Lower
Conlig Upper
Conlig Lower
Church Road
Lough Money